Pongal is a popular harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. The festival of Pongal is celebrated for four days (13-16 January) named as Bhogi, Makara Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kannum. The second day of Pongal is the main festival. It is celebrated on 14 January with full fervour everywhere. On this day, farmers express their gratitude to God and His blessings for the bountiful crops.
The name “Pongal” refers to a pudding made from fresh milk, freshly harvested rice and jaggery. On this day, farmers offer their fresh harvest to God in the form of this pudding to thank Him for all His blessings. The festival marks the beginning of the movement of Sun northward for six months period, which is considered very auspicious. The Sun enters the zodiac sign of Makara or Capricorn, marking the end of winter and advent of spring season. The day sets the pace for a series of other festivals. Harvest time is over for the farmers and with this festival, they enjoy the period of bountiful crop, peace and happiness.
On this festival, people decorate their houses with flowers and strings of mango leaves. People draw traditional kolams (rangolis) at the entrance of their houses. This decorative pattern is made by rice flour to welcome the guests. Everyone prepare sweet dishes in the house and exchange it with their friends and relatives. People wear new traditional dress to perform the rituals. On the day of Makara Pongal i.e.14 January, the famous ceremony is performed wherein the husband and wife tie a turmeric plant around the pot and cook rice in it until the rice boil over. The dish is offered to Sun God with sugarcane, bananas and coconuts and later distributed among all as the Prasad.
On this day, the devotees decorate the temples and chant prayers, there. The sounds of temple bells make this festival a joyous occasion. People paint the faces of their cows and bulls with seashells and beads. They worship their garlanded cows and bulls and take them around the village in a procession. Cattle races, bull fights (jallikattu), rath yatra, bonfires, singing, dancing and community feasts are the attractions of this cheerful festival.
People greet their friends & relatives, exchange gifts and sweets with them. They visit to the temples, pay homage to the elders of the family to invoke blessings for a fruitful year ahead.
Children are more excited because they get new clothes; receive their Pongal gifts and money from their elders.
Celebrate this festival with your children at your home by using the following tips:
- Tell your children about the importance of Pongal. Help them to understand the significance of this harvest festival, rituals and customs related to it.
- Help your children to know about the important role of nature i.e. rain, sun, harvest and animals in our life.
- Go for shopping with your children, buy new clothes for them and surprise them with the best gifts they ever wished for.
- Help them to decorate floor at the entrance with colourful rangoli. Ask them to use flowers and colours.
- Prepare Pongal dishes made with rice and jaggery for your children.
- Tell them to greet their friends and family members on this day.
- Ask your children to seek blessings from their elders.
- Involve them with you to exchange gifts and sweets with family and friends.
- You can involve them in some other activities related to the festival so that they can recognise the main elements of the festival. For this you may download Pongal worksheets from Internet and ask the children to colour these sheets or you may play word searches related to this festival.
Children’s involvement in various activities on Pongal will give them an opportunity to understand the purpose of the festival and its celebrations.
Read More about Pongal :